Reducing advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in your diet can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and prevent premature aging!
What are AGEs?
You may have heard of AGEs before, but what exactly are they? AGEs, or advanced glycation end products, are a type of harmful compound that forms when proteins or fats combine with sugars in the bloodstream through a process called glycation. These compounds are known to increase inflammation and oxidative stress and can damage tissues, contributing to the development of various chronic diseases.
Where are AGEs found?
AGEs, also known as glycotoxins, are form when high fat animal foods, such as meat is exposed to high heat. Cooking methods like grilling, frying, and roasting, as well as processed foods tend to be high in AGEs.
Although the body has a way of eliminating AGEs, excessive AGEs in our circulation can produce harmful effects. Exposure to AGEs has been linked to an increased risk of inflammation, oxidative stress, and cell damage. These effects can lead to the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
How can you avoid AGEs?
The main source of AGEs is from our diet. While the formation of AGEs is part of normal metabolism, excessive amounts may be harmful. There are several ways you can reduce exposure to AGEs.
- Cook using moist methods, such as steaming, poaching or boiling, that don’t involve high dry heat
- Limit your consumption of processed foods
- Use shorter cooking times
- Cook food gently using lower temperatures
- Include acidic ingredients, such as lemon juice and vinegar which inhibit the formation of AGE
The standard American diet is often high in processed foods that have higher levels of AGEs, so it’s important to limit your intake of these foods. Some processed foods that are high in AGEs include:
- Hot dogs
Carbohydrate-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk tend to be lower in AGEs, even after cooking. Foods that are lower in AGEs include:
- whole-grain bread and pasta
- beans and legumes
- low-fat milk products
There is evidence that maintaining a healthy gut microbiome may also contribute to lower levels of circulating AGEs. This is because gut bacteria have the ability to degrade AGEs during the digestive process. Consuming a diet rich in probiotic foods such as fermented foods -kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir – and taking a probiotic supplement can support a healthy gut microbiome. You can learn much more about gut-friendly foods in a previous post – How to Heal Your Leak Gut.
Lastly, consuming a diet rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals may also contribute to reducing cell damage caused by AGEs.
A Diet low in AGEs
Human studies suggest that a low-AGE diet reduces oxidative stress and inflammation. These studies revealed increased insulin sensitivity, which can help maintain weight loss over time, as well as reduced markers of inflammation.
So what does a low-AGE diet look like? Here are two sample menus with some of my favorite meal plan recipes that utilize ways to reduce AGE levels:
Breakfast: Orange Cardamom Overnight Oats
Lunch: Kale and Sweet Potato Salad with Walnuts
Snack: Yogurt with Blueberries
Dinner: Whole-grain Pasta with Beans, Garlic, and Arugula served with Simple Poached Salmon
Breakfast: Chocolate Fudge Smoothie with Hemp Seeds
Lunch: Quinoa Tabbouleh
Snack: Low-fat Cottage Cheese with Raspberries
Dinner: African Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
The current AGE research demonstrates that a significantly reduced intake of AGEs can be achieved by increasing the consumption of fish, legumes, low-fat milk products, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and by reducing intake of solid fats, fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and highly processed foods.
Reducing your exposure to AGEs is a good way to support your overall health, prevent premature aging and reduce your risk of chronic disease. Making simple changes to the way you cook and eat can help protect your health in the long term by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. If you need a little inspiration for healthy cooking, click here for my free weekly recipe!